Back in January of 2020, following the untimely passing of Kobe Bryant, Spencer Dinwiddie decided to honor him by changing his jersey number. Then with the Brooklyn Nets, Dinwiddie switched from No. 8 to No. 26, which held significance because of his son's birthday.
Well, now Dinwiddie is a member of the Wizards and he's keeping No. 26, which will make him the first player in Wizards franchise history ever to wear that number. In fact, it was the last number from 0 to 36 that had never been claimed in the 60-season history of the franchise.
The Wizards have had 458 players suit up for them since 1961 as they have played as the Packers, the Zephyrs, the Bullets and now the Wizards. Not one of them has worn No. 26.
Turns out No. 26 is one of the rarer uniform numbers in the NBA. Basketball Reference has a page that tracks them each season and in 2020-21 only three numbers 0-through-30 were worn by fewer players. Those would be 29, the only one not worn by anybody, plus 28 (three players) and 34 (four players).
No. 34 is a bit surprising, given it's been the number of choice for many legends including Shaquille O'Neal, Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley and Paul Pierce. It's also the number Giannis Antetokounmpo wears and he is arguably the best player in the game right now.
NBA.com did a recent study on which number is the most decorated in NBA history. Based purely on league MVPs, it would be No. 33 because Kareem Abdul-Jabbar won six and Larry Bird won three. That's even more than No. 23, which totaled seven between Michael Jordan and LeBron James.
Across the NBA, the Wizards are one of seven franchises to never have a player wear No. 26. Meanwhile, the Sixers and Celtics have each had nine players wear it before. Kyle Korver is the only player to wear No. 26 for two different franchises; the Bucks and Cavaliers.
There are some real oddities in the history of NBA jersey numbers. Like, for instance, three players in the 1950s wore the number '03,' which is different from '3.' Others wore '07' and '09,' again way back in the 1940s and 50s.
Only 12 numbers 0-through-100 have never been worn. Those would be 58, 59, 64, 69, 74, 75, 78, 79, 80, 82, 87 and 97.
The popularity of jersey numbers can change dramatically over time. Last season, the second-most worn jersey number was '0,' with No. 3 the only one being more common. In 1990, only one player (Orlando Woolridge) wore No. 0. Former Wizards star Gilbert Arenas is credited with helping make zero more popular.
Former Bullets big man Gheorghe Muresan may have had a similar effect on No. 77. When he chose it in 1994, it hadn't been worn since two players had it in 1949. Since Muresan, 11 players have worn No. 77 including two last season (Luka Doncic and Ersan Ilyasova).
Athletes often choose their jersey numbers due to personal significance. Usually, it's the number they have worn throughout their careers, in some cases going back to high school. Some are so meaningful, players will buy them from their teammates.
But for whatever reason, no one has ever wanted No. 26 before in Wizards/Bullets franchise history. Dinwiddie is set to change that and chart his own path.